These stuffed bell peppers are a tried and true recipe from my mother and grandmother. Stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and pork as well as rice, caramelised onions and parsley this recipe make you feel all warm and cosy on the inside!
If you like stuffed peppers, I am sure you will enjoy my Cabbage Rolls as well!
This recipe was on my waiting list far too long. As soon as I began blogging I knew I would have to write about stuffed bell peppers that my mom used to make.
It’s an authentic Russian recipe, which means the peppers are stuffed with meat. Yes, we Russians are very much a meat loving nation. 🙂
However, our vegetable dishes are bountiful and ridiculously full of flavour. No one would ever imagine to sit down to just a plate of steak. It’s all about variety and moderation.
These peppers are loved by anyone who eats them. The meat filling is mixed with rice and flavoured with caramelised onions, herbs and spices in perfect harmony.
How to make Russian stuffed peppers
The best way to cook stuffed peppers is in an oven slowly, covered in a delicious tomato and sour cream sauce. This way the peppers and the filling absorb the sauce making them juicy and full of flavour.
You can play around with the filling like I did in this recipe for lighter stuffed peppers but the traditional filling is a mixture of ground beef and pork plus cooked rice.
You can cook rice specifically for this recipe or use leftover rice. If I am cooking ½ cup/50g of rice just for this recipe I usually cook it the same way as I do pasta. I bring water to a boil in a pot and add rice to it, then cook for 7-10 minutes and drain. Don’t worry if the rice is not completely soft, it will get there when you are cooking peppers.
Like I mentioned earlier, the traditional recipe is quite pared down on flavours but I like to add caramelised onions and chopped parsley to my filling. It makes a world of difference.
How to prepare bell peppers for stuffing
I like to use a variety of red, yellow and green bell peppers to fill as they all have a slightly different taste and a degree of sweetness. Wash the peppers, cut the tops off and remove cores with seeds and membranes by gently pulling and twisting them out of the peppers.
If you are using very large peppers, I recommend cutting them lengthwise, so they are not too deep. Then remove the core and stuff them like you see in the first photo.
Stuff bell peppers with the meat filling making sure not to pack too tightly, which would result in tougher, denser meat. If you have any leftover filling roll it into meatballs. We used to call them “hedgehogs” when I was little because rice starts to poke out when they cooked resembling the hedgehog quills.
Stand stuffed peppers up in a large casserole dish and put the meatballs (if you have any)on top. Choose a casserole dish where all the peppers can fit while standing up. Once again make sure there is a little space around them for the sauce.
Creamy tomato sauce recipe
One of the best features of this dish is the sauce. After 40 minutes in the oven this tomato and sour cream based sauce becomes even more delicious through absorbing the flavours of the peppers and the meat.
People joke that Russians put sour cream in everything and we really do. Can you blame them?! Wouldn’t you if you hit the jackpot!
Make sauce by mixing full fat sour cream with crushed tomatoes with a touch of paprika and salt. Pour the sauce over the peppers and add a bay leaf for flavour. Cover with a lid and put in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until the peppers are soft.
If your sour cream separates a bit in the process of cooking, don’t worry it will still taste just as amazing. Serve your stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes or on their own. I am getting hungry all over again just thinking about them!
Low carb version?
You can enjoy a low carb version by replacing the rice with cauliflower rice or grated zucchini.
Alternatively you can replace rice with other grains like millet, quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat or your favourite grain.
More delicious stuffed vegetable recipes:
- Chipotle Turkey and Wild Rice Stuffed Butternut Squash
- Harissa Beef Stuffed Eggplant
- Stuffed Mushrooms with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts
Recipe originally published in 10/2013. Updated with new text and photos and republished in 02/2020
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Smoky Paprika Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, medium chopped
- ½ lbs ground beef, extra lean
- ½ lbs ground pork, extra lean
- 50g/1/2cup rice cooked
- 25g/1/2cup fresh parsley chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 10 bell peppers, medium variety of colours
- 375ml/1 ½ cups sour cream or creme fraiche
- 375ml/1 ½ cups tomato passata or crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 bay leaf
- Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Cook rice or use leftover rice. If you are cooking ½ cup of rice just for this recipe I usually cook it the same way as I do pasta. Bring water to a boil in a pot and add rice to it, cook for 7-10 minutes.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan gently saute the chopped onion over medium low heat until softened for 5-7 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine beef, pork. onion, rice, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
- Wash peppers, cut the tops off and removes the cores with seeds and membranes by gently pulling and twisting them out of the peppers.
- Stuff peppers with the meat filling. If you have any leftover filling roll it into meatballs.
- Then stand them up in a casserole dish and put the meatballs (if you have any) on top. Choose a casserole dish where all the peppers can fit while standing up.
- Make sauce by mixing creme fraiche or sour cream with crushed tomatoes, then add paprika and 1 tsp of salt. Pour the sauce over the peppers, add the bay leaf, cover with a lid and put in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until the peppers are soft.